Police in the Belize District had a particularly busy weekend, with a body count of three deaths, two homicide and one apparent suicide, and six persons injured, all by gunfire. We begin with the death of 35 year old Vern Magdaleno of Fabers Road Extension on Friday night, April 17. Around 8:14 p.m. he had just gotten into his parked Mazda vehicle, having bought an order of fried chicken from the shop at the corner when his assailant rode up to the driver’s side of the vehicle and fired a single shot, hitting him in the left side of the head. He would be pronounced dead an hour later. Police say that despite recording statements from persons in the area, they have yet to make any arrests. We hear more from Superintendent of Police Hilberto Romero, the officer in charge of Crime Investigation Branch for Eastern Division.
Supt. Hilberto Romero – OC, CIB Eastern Division
“The information we have is that he went there with his common-law-wife to purchase fried chicken and was seated in his car when a lone gunman rode up, approached him in the car and fired one single shot at him which cause the fatal injury. Several persons were at that establishment purchasing chicken at the time and we have conducted several interviews and recorded several statements. So far we have not been able to lay any charges on anyone regarding this shooting.”
“Do you know the suspect?”
Supt. Hilberto Romero
“We are looking for persons of interest at this time, but again we have not been able to charge anyone for that murder.”
“Was there any surveillance video that was retrieved that captured the incident as it happened?”
Supt. Hilberto Romero
“Well we have our officers still working on that. today’s Monday and they are reviewing the entire area to see if the cameras captured anything, but so far we have not gotten any at this time.”
Our colleagues at KREM News spoke with a brother of the deceased who says that the tender boat operator and father of three, was not known to be involved in criminal activity.
“He came to see me at my work on Friday. We talked. We spent half an hour together and then he went to see his father. Before he left, he asked me for gas to put in his car and he came down back. That was about it. Not knowing that Friday would have been my last visit from him because they killed him Friday night.
“Has it crossed the family’s mind that it may have been him just being at the wrong place at the wrong time?”
“That could be a possibility as well. You know, the neighbourhood you have different people you don’t know… people look like people. So it could also be a possibility of mistaken identity as well.”
The shocking discovery of their father’s body terrified his family.
“When I arrived from Ladyville the night, I have that mental picture in my mind, seeing my niece screaming ‘dad dad dad dad’ and seeing my nephew, 10 years old look all shooked and horrified that their father in the vehicle lifeless… dead. They are taking it very hard. As a matter of fact, my niece is to graduate from ACC come June and I am sure that her dad would have wanted to see her walk up, receiving that diploma. He provides for them, he works so hard for them. He gets up at 4 to go out there and get the catamaran prepared to pick up the tourist and then interact with tourist. That’s how he makes his money.”
“What was the age of the child in the vehicle and how many other children does he have?”
“The persons in the vehicle was his common-law- wife and her cousin.”
Magdaleno has one previous charge for burglary but was not known to be otherwise involved in criminal or gang activity despite living in a neighborhood infested with it. Police investigations continue.